A jury in California handed down a $5.7 million verdict in the first of what is expected to be thousands of trials against Johnson & Johnson’s Ethicon Inc. subsidiary for the TVT Abbrevo transvaginal mesh product.
The case is significant because it sets the tone for how the rest of the cases are likely to go, and it could very well compel the company to enter into more settlement agreements, rather than take their chances at trial.
Jurors in Perry et al. v. Luu et al. deliberated for three days before finding defendant firm liable for defective product design and also failing to warn consumers about the risks.
Plaintiff underwent surgery for treatment of stress urinary incontinence. The Abbrevo was created specifically for this purpose, and was approved for sale in 2010 by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. This plaintiff received the implant about a year later.
She reported that almost right away after the surgery, she began to experience a painful pulling sensation. As it turned out, the mesh that was implanted had begun to erode inside her body, causing her intense and chronic pain. It’s expected she will grapple with chronic pain the rest of her life.
Attorneys for the developer/manufacturer insisted the product was carefully designed and vetted before it was released to the market for use in patients. The company asserted doctors held the devices in high regard, going so far as to call it the “gold standard” of treatment for incontinence among women.
While it’s true it was a newer model, clearly there have been numerous issues, considering thousands of defective medical device lawsuits have been filed since the product hit the market five years ago.
Although this case, which was before the Superior Court of California in Kern County, was the first to target the Abbrevo product, it’s the fourth win against Ethicon for its transvaginal mesh products. This company is one of three facing an estimated 70,000 federal transvaginal mesh injury lawsuits. There are also thousands more additional cases pending in state courts.
Ethicon alone faces an estimated 30,000 pending cases.
Allegations are that the company improperly designed the devices, causing painful erosion, greatly and permanently damaged internal organs and made it extremely painful for patients to engage in sexual intercourse.
Johnson & Johnson voluntarily pulled four lines of its mesh products from the market in the summer of 2012. However, Abbrevo was not one of those. It continues to sell Abbrevo and other lines of incontinence-sling inserts.
The other lines were halted after federal regulators ordered the company (and dozens of others) to launch a comprehensive study on the health complications and organ damage attributed to these products.
Many of the pending cases have been consolidated in a federal court in West Virginia. Johmson & Johnson informed the judge in that case three years ago that it intended to halt the sales of some insert lines, though the firm still continues to sell several.
In the recent California case, jurors determined plaintiff sustained $700,000 in compensatory damages, but also ordered the company to pay $5 million in punitive damages.
And yet, sales for this very same product are expected to reach $1.7 billion within the next two years.
If you have been injured by a defective medical device, contact the Hollander Law Firm at (888) 751-7770 for a free and confidential consultation. There is no fee unless we win.
J&J Ordered to Pay $5.7 Million Over Incontinence Implant, March 15, 2015, By Jef Feeley, Bloomberg
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